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honestgamer It's not all an elaborate ruse, some misguided attempt to establish for myself an online persona of dubious quality. I really am dull. If you don't find that unbearable, though, this is my blog that examines just how truly boring I can be.

Title: 10 Days
Posted: July 05, 2008 (12:37 AM)
At work, our schedules come out on Thursday. I always look so that I can then plan out my game/site time for the next week. Yesterday, we were so busy that I didn't even have time to slip back and check a second time, since they were late posting it and didn't have it up when I checked the first time.

So today I checked it, thinking on the way back that "Boy, I hope they don't schedule me on Sunday or something stupid because that would mean 6 consecutive days of work for me!"

When I looked, I found that I'm scheduled this next week for Sunday through Thursday. That means I work 10 consecutive days. This week's 5 days amounted to 40 hours in peak rush, meaning just about every one of those days (I've worked 4 of the 5) has been hellish: grouchy customers angry that the whole store doesn't drop everything to address their specific needs, angry that the throngs of other disturbed people don't part for them like the Red Sea in front of Moses' staff.

Next week, at least I have only six-hour shifts instead of the eight-hour ones, but I'm still not looking forward to them. I have stuff to do at home that I'd been putting off until I got a day off--stuff that really shouldn't wait--so this 10-day crap is really irritating me. Especially since, you know, I said specifically when they hired me that I was looking for 20-hour work weeks or maybe 25. They said "You might get a little over 20 hours in the summer," by which it seems they meant "You'll get twice what you want so nyah!"

I need the money, of course, and I need the job... so there's nothing I can really do about it. I'm not going to bitch about it to the guy that does the scheduling, either. But I shall let my disgust fester inside. You can count on that!
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Title: Holiday sickness
Posted: July 04, 2008 (12:41 PM)
I'm a suspicious person, I guess. Last night at work, they hadn't scheduled nearly enough people to handle the predictable holiday rush. There were only two or three cashiers scheduled in our huge department (which for most practical purposes is about half the store, and I'm talking about a store along the lines of a Super Wal-Mart). There were also only three clerks scheduled for most of the evening--myself being one--and one supervisor.

Then disaster struck: one of my co-workers called in sick.

It's possible that this person truly was sick. Possible, I say, but somehow I find it difficult to believe. This skepticism comes from years of working retail, I realize. It's difficult to remember the last time that someone didn't mysteriously come down with some sickness or other right at the worst moment: the holiday.

This cashier person being 'sick' meant that clerks had to cover for her on the register, which in turn meant that there were fewer of us on the floor. We didn't get everything done last night that we were supposed to because we couldn't walk five feet without another customer accosting us and demanding help... QUICKLY.

So yesterday was pretty hellish. It would have been anyway, but the cashier calling in sick just clinched it. Grr...

I hope today goes better. Unlike every other store in town, we'll be open until 11PM even though pretty much everyone will be out enjoying fireworks. At least, I hope they will be... I could definitely do with a slow evening. Sadly, I bet the early afternoon will be just as awful today as it was yesterday.
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Title: What do you think of NDAs?
Posted: July 02, 2008 (04:50 AM)
Recently, a moderator on Eurogamer ignored his non-disclosure agreement and posted on the forums to say that Too Human--a title he was only able to play because he signed a legally-binding NDA indicating that he would not discuss the game until a date sometime in the future--is the worst game he has played in the past five years.

There are a lot of regulars on that site who are praising him for doing the right thing and breaking the agreement. It got me wondering how some of you feel about the matter. Should non-disclosure agreements be honored? Do you think more of someone who breaks them to report exclusive news ahead of his competition? Less? Do non-disclosure agreements interfere with the free market system so many of us value?

I've made up my mind on the above points a long time ago (I'm fully in favor of NDAs being followed to the letter), but what do you think?

Title: Failed resolutions
Posted: July 01, 2008 (01:44 PM)
When this year began, I was fresh off a busy holiday season of reviewing games like crazy. In November, I believe I reviewed somewhere around 13 games in just the one month and I was dangerously close to burnout.

"I won't do that in 2008," I vowed to myself. "I won't review as many games in 2008 as I did in 2007. I won't do that at all."

For the first week or two, I was as good as my word. My first review in 2008 wasn't posted until January 9, when I reviewed MX vs. ATV Untamed for PlayStation 3.

Then things fell apart. Today, at the year's halfway point, I decided to see where I sit. Last year, I reviewed my usual number of games... around 60. So this year?

At the halfway point, I'm already at 36 reviews. Multiply that by two and I'm on track to exceed last year's number by a fair bit. That's before you even consider the holiday rush at the end of the year--which is inevitable, really--and it's before you factor in a stream of games I plan to review over the next week or two. It also doesn't include the freelance reviews I've written.

Yeah, my new year's resolution is pretty much shot. Did any of you make any resolutions related to writing and gaming? If so, how are you doing on them?
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Title: My newest DS review...
Posted: June 21, 2008 (04:54 AM)
Well, I've posted my most recent review and it happens to be for a DS title...

Summon Night: Twin Age (DS) review

Sometimes, I think the reception to DS reviews is quite lukewarm. That probably has a lot to do with the perception that the DS isn't a 'real' gaming machine, that it simply plays host to a bunch of gimmicky games that won't appeal to any serious gamers.

Summon Night: Twin Age is a game that defies that, though. I'm not saying that it's a fantastic game or anything--it has its share of flaws and my review explores them at length--but it does feel almost like someone took a PS2 game and shrunk it down for Nintendo's handheld. There's even a surprising amount of voice acting!

Anyway, this review went on a lot longer than I expected it to and that's even with me going over for revisions a few time and trimming out details that weren't necessary in my mind. I'm curious to see if it still works for people, or if they think that the game discussion doesn't entirely warrant the 1340-word text. Any thoughts?
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Title: My newest review...
Posted: June 17, 2008 (02:25 AM)
I wrote another review tonight, this time for Time Soldiers.

The main reason I wrote the review was Leroux's challenge on the forums, wherein he'll respond to any new staff or user review of an arcade game on this site by writing one of his own.

That's just an awesome idea and I'm glad he thought of it (and is willing to follow through). It inspired me to download Time Soldiers for MAME, which I'd been meaning to play seriously for quite some time.

The problem I ran to immediately was that I couldn't get my Xbox 360 controller working with the emulator. This is because by default, MAME32 disables joysticks. Dumb decision, if you ask me. But whatever.

I checked online and support files said to change joystick 0 in the .ini file to joystick 1. However, I had searched before and there were several .ini files. Finally, I found that it meant the 'dir.txt' file in the 'ini' subfolder, so I opened that up and found it completely blank. Irritated, I typed in 'joystick 1' (without the apostrophes, of course) and saved it. That magically enabled my Xbox 360 controller (which already had drivers installed on my laptop).

So I was able to play Time Soldiers! The result is my newest review.

Now that I can control games reasonably well again, I will possibly return to Willow and finally write up a review for that. Then maybe another one for Crush Roller once I put more time into that, and I'll have gone through the main arcade games of my childhood.

Thanks for doing this project, Leroux! It was just the motivation I needed!
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Title: I hate colds...
Posted: June 14, 2008 (03:03 PM)
I am fortunate in that I don't get head colds very often. When I sense one coming--maybe I have sniffles or my throat irritates me slightly--I self-medicate with echinachea (not how you spell that, I'm sure) tea and orange juice. It has staved off one cold after another.

Two nights ago, I went to sleep feeling great and woke up with an absurdly sore throat and the sniffles. I started drinking the tea and orange juice as usual, but I knew it was already too late. What do you do when a cold begins while you're asleep?

Today I work. I don't want to go to work. My nose is running bad--when it really wants to, it runs so badly that I could honestly just sit for hours blowing my nose. But of course, I must. So I'll be doping up on cold medicine and miserable all evening, as a follow-up to all day yesterday (which thankfully I had off from work).

Ugh. I hope it's another three years before I have another cold like this again!
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Title: Street Fighter IV
Posted: June 11, 2008 (06:58 PM)
The game I most want right now is Street Fighter IV, and I don't particularly want to wait.

When I was in my early teens, Street Fighter II: The World Warrior was the battle I chose to fight with my mother. My dad was usually on the road, smack dab in the middle of his 'owner/operator of a long-haul semi truck' phase, and that left my sister and I mostly alone--except for every other weekend or so--with one figure of authority and moral guidance.

I knew that my mom didn't like Street Fighter II and I knew why: she simply needed an education.

When you say 'street fighter' to a parent--then as now--you conjure up unpleasant images: goons lounging casually near chain link fences, juggling switchblade knifes and possibly swearing between a trip to the local hotel for a roll between the sheets with a prostitute. That's how my mother saw it, at least, and that's how I know a lot of her friends did.

So I launched a campaign on how Street Fighter II wasn't really about all of that, how my interest came down to just the two warriors, battling it out before one emerged the victor and the other went home battered and bruised... but still very much alive.

In essence, I sold her on the genre (or at least, resigned her to the fact that this was important to me and that I wasn't going to give much ground). Eventually, I had her blessing to save up what money I could scrape together and purchase the game... and so I did.

Of course I enjoyed it. Of course I played the heck out of it--hour after hour, day after day... for months--and of course my mom said that it made me a violent person and that video game violence was evil. She was wrong and I got to keep playing the game (because, after all, I never tried to throw a fireball at my sister or anything like that).

And that brings us to the present, so many years later, when Capcom is preparing to unleash a new round of Street Fighter perfection on the fans... people like me who never really grew out of that old-fashioned gamer mentality that says "lots of punches and kicks and fireballs and Chun-Li do make for a great game."

The complaints I've been hearing are that Street Fighter IV is really nothing but a much prettier remix of Street Fighter II with a handful of new characters. And so I say "Bring it on." And to that I add "Quickly, please!"
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Title: The FAQs of life...
Posted: June 03, 2008 (04:52 AM)
Tonight, I accessed my old e-mail account, which hadn't been in proper use for weeks but which still has old messages and contact info stored. I'm trying to slowly move over important PR contacts to my Outlook account, but it takes awhile.

Anyway, I was going through old messages and there were some from FAQ contributors who had written back to me and granted permission to post their stuff. This was from nearly a year ago. At the time, I was living in a motorhome. Then I didn't have Internet access dependably for a bit, then I was moving into my apartment, then I was distracted with prolonged unemployment...

Long story short: tonight is the first night where I had all the info I needed to post the FAQs (a lot of the details I needed were stored on a huge spreadsheet I maintain). So I posted around 30 or 40 FAQs, some of them really quite good.

Someday, I'll hopefully make another round of FAQ soliciting, but as things stand, we're nearing 4500 FAQs on the site. Not quite the 5000 I was hopeful that I would have by now, but a decent number just the same.

In other news, WOW... I need to go to bed. I think I will.
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Title: Dreamcast videos galore!
Posted: May 31, 2008 (11:50 PM)
This afternoon, I hooked up my Dreamcast and I've been playing through my library of games again, collecting video footage to post online.

So far, I've grabbed video for Mars Matrix, Gunbird 2, Giga Wing 1 and 2, Bangai-O, Street Fighter Alpha 3, Street Fighter III: Third Strike and The Typing of the Dead.

I own a few more games for which I plan to grab video. Then I can put away the Dreamcast for awhile again as I move on to other systems. It was just important to me that I grab footage from those games for the site, in case something happens to the system or whatever.

Anyway, it's been a pretty fun afternoon. I hadn't played a lot of these games in years, so I was able to have a lot of fun now. It's one reason I am always reluctant to do away with bits of my collection. I'll probably come back to these games again after I capture video of the bulk of the other games I own... if such a time ever comes.

On an only vaguely related note, kudos to Felix_Arabia and Woodhouse, who have been submitting a lot of cover art today for old retro games. Work from people like you is the reason HonestGamers continues to be one of my favorite places to visit on the Internet. I know that sounds cheesy coming from me, the webmaster, since I'm a bit biased. But I really do believe that the site is something special thanks to the work you all put into it. Thanks!
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